What Is The William Westerfeld House?

February 12, 2024

William Westerfeld was a German baker. He was born in Bremen, Germany on September 12, 1842. In 1859 he moved to San Francisco where he started working with his uncle Louis Westerfeld. Louise was a baker at a coffee and bakery shop called Schroth & Westerfeld. It was during this time that Louise trained William to be a confectioner. During the 1860s, William started his own confectionery business, and quickly became a noted baker and confectioner on the popular  Market Street in San Francisco. Everything was seemingly going well for William and his business, until 1891. It was at this time that the Bakers' Union No. 24 led a boycott of his business, due to his refusal to have Sundays off from work. However, other bakeries came to William's defense, and published a response in the  San Francisco Chronicle.  A year later though, another boycott occurred when Westerfeld Bakery required workers to work seven days a week, instead of just six. It seems William had quite the work ethic, if not a bit extreme. On February 18, 1895, William passed away in his home, and was cremated and interred at Cypress Lawn Cemetery. He left behind his wife Pauline, and children Otto, Paul, Ella, and Walla. So, why is William Westerfeld's house so important to this day? See for yourself, and take a look at the William Westerfeld House below.

Credit: waltarrrrr

The William Westerfeld House is a historic building in San Francisco, CA. It was built in 1889 for William Westerfeld, and is currently San Francisco Landmark No. 135. As well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home is located across from the much desired Alamo Square, sitting right on the corner of Fulton and Scott St. The home was designed by architect Henry Geilfuss, and cost around $9,985 to build. Today that price would be about $325,000. The impressive home has 28 rooms in total, as well as an adjoining carriage house. William also had a rose garden put in, however after he died and John Mahony purchased the home, the rose garden was replaced with apartments. 

Credit: Google Earth

John Mahony was a part of the Mahony Brothers, who were responsible for building the St. Francis Hotel, and the Palace Hotel. They owned the Westerfeld House until 1928, when a few Czarist Russians purchased the home. It was during this time that The Willian Westerfeld House became known as “The Russian Embassy.” They made some changes to the home, including making the grand ballroom a nightclub, called Dark Eyes. They also turned the upper floors into additional meeting rooms. Twenty years later, in 1948 the entire home was then turned into a 14 unit apartment building. Keeping in theme with the nightclub aspect, many musicians were known to rent rooms in the building. Mostly African-American jazz musicians, including John Handy.

Another few decades went by before Charles Fracchia purchased the home in 1965. Although he purchased with the intent on living there, he never actually moved in. In 1967 filmmaker Kenneth Anger moved into the home, and filmed Invocation of My Demon Brother there. The underground film was controversial, as it starred Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil, as well as the Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Oddly enough, some of the music in the film was by Mick Jagger.  

In 1986, the home was once again purchased, this time by Jim Siegel for $750,000. Much needed work was done, including retrofitting the foundation, removing the dropped ceilings, re-wiring, re-roofing, and re-plumbing. The interior and exterior woodwork had also been restored. The grand ballroom that had decades prior been turned into a nightclub, was restored, and the 25 foot ceiling had been redecorated with Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper, modeled after the time period. You can take a look inside the home as it stands today, in the Instagram carousel below.

Haunted House?

So, with all this history, is the William Westerfeld House haunted? Well, it depends I guess what you believe, or who you believe. In my opinion, any Victorian home built prior to the 1900's has a great chance of being haunted. Especially with a history like this one, from a nightclub called Dark Eyes, to many musicians coming and going, to a satanic movie and rumored satanic rituals happening all inside the home. The home has been the subject of many ghost hunters and paranormal researchers. In fact, Kesha and rapper/actor GaTa filmed an episode of her show, Conjuring Kesha, where the two spent time in the home to see what hauntings they could discover. Take a look in the video below.

The House also appeared on an episode of Ghost Adventures, as you can see a peek below:


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A post shared by Ghost Adventures (@ghostadventures)


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A post shared by Ghost Adventures (@ghostadventures)

What do you think of the William Westerfeld House?

Conclusion: History & Beauty

If these walls could talk. This historic home has seen many owners, and been through many decades of change. It's still just as beautiful as ever. If you enjoyed taking a walk down memory lane and reading about the William Westerfeld House, take a look at another historic house, The Margaret Mitchell House here.

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Julie Bowes
Meet Julie, the creative Head of Content at Urban Splatter. Since her move from the East Coast to Los Angeles in 2017, she's been bringing the world of celebrity real estate to life through her engaging articles. Julie has honed her passion for storytelling into a thriving full-time career, producing innovative content ideas and contributing to multiple websites. With a self-published book and several novels to her name, she's continuously expanding her horizons in the freelance writing sphere.

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